By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Policy , and Terms of Service. But Wal-Mart is also a world within itself, a super-sized corporate entity directed from afar and against any form of local initiative. She surprised that with so little experience on the job she is given such a responsibility. A simple show of appreciation goes a long way in cementing a strong relationship with people who provide services for you. But during that week, working for a housekeeping company gets more and more difficult for her, both physically and mentally.

The first site chosen for the experiment was Key West, Florida, as it was close to her home. Upper management decides to fire George, but to allow him to work until the end of the week. But she quit before she expected to, as a slew of difficult customers convinced her to quit her job mid-shift and with no notice. In the introduction, Ehrenreich describes her real life as a writer with a Ph. During one day of work she twists her ankle and is unable to walk without pain. She finds her work at Wal-Mart repetitive and monotonous, and begins to believe that the employees are working part too hard for the wages they are given.

She heads that way, then sneaks outside to her car, at one point having to dodge into shoes to avoid Howard. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class. Barbara feels resentful and somewhat contemptuous the first few days: On one Saturday, a heavier shopping day, she arrives to clothes tossed inches deep on the floor, but reaches a kind of flow state in which all her tasks seem to complete themselves.

She refuses to see a doctor but instead wants to finish their day’s work. When Barbara leaves to go, Caroline comes back with a family-sized container of homemade stew.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ehrenreich spends more time looking for a place to live than in the other cities.


Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America Summary at

How can we improve? The two jobs become too physically demanding for her to continue, and she vacates the maid position after one day. Barbara says she still thinks they could have done something together if she could have afforded to work at Wal-Mart longer. She remains nervous during this ebrenreich but has pride in her work after her shift is completed. Barbara has been experiencing low-wage working life as an English-speaking American.


Nickel and Dimed: Scrubbing in Maine – The Simple Dollar

The housekeeping company offered free breakfasts but would not raise their wages even as they repeatedly came up short handed. She and Melissa think up new jobs to do so that they can do them together. On the job front, though, Barbara is told to show up for orientation at Menards on Wednesday morning. At an employee meeting, Barbara is listening to another associate complain about how bad a deal the company health insurance is, when Barbara realizes they need a union.


selling in minnesota by barbara ehrenreich essay

She is trying to negotiate a further reduction in the cost with the fitting room lady when Howard appears and says there are no employee discounts on clearance items.

Without a bolt, shades, or screens, Barbara feels vulnerable and is afraid to sleep. The housekeeping position proved to be physically demanding as well as low paying, and Ehrenreich also felt the job to be degrading. Once again, Barbara goes through an orientation in which the corporation at large, rather than middle management, instructs employees in how best to fulfill its own policies and philosophy, complete with an origin myth of the Waltons. That evening, Barbara scopes out the low-priced food options in Clearview—only a Chinese buffet or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Nickel and Dimed: Scrubbing in Maine

Another video talks about the feeling of family for which Wal-Mart is so well known, meaning that there is no place for a union—in fact, it says, unions have been targeting Wal-Mart for years to greedily collect dues money. This personality test seems oriented towards a different, probably rougher crowd, but it similarly attempts to trick out potential employees. But Wal-Mart is also a world within itself, a super-sized corporate entity directed from afar and against any form of local initiative.


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There are two housekeepers that Ehrenreich works with often- Marge and Holly. She calls one of the Wal-Marts and speaks to Robertawho tells her to come into her store office.

selling in minnesota by barbara ehrenreich essay

Combined with the problems with co-workers, Ehrenreich also has problems finding affordable housing. His regular meetings seem pointless to her, and only feed into the monotony. After one of the other maids in injured on the job, Ehrenreich demands that the younger maid stop working, and tries to halt the work of all the maids.

She switches to another room with a bed, chair, drawers, and a TV fastened to the wall, with a single overhead bulb. She realizes, while picking things up, that what she does here is what most mothers do at home, picking up the mlnnesota and spills—so here the mothers get to behave like small children.

The woman mixes Barbara up several times with someone else who worked at Wal-Mart who came in a few days ago. At Wal-Mart, customers shop with shopping carts filled to the brim, often leaving about 90 percent rejected.

After complaining to Ted, he gives Holly a day off to seek medical treatment. The rental agents that Barbara does reach recommend finding a weekly motel until something opens up.